“Have you ever noticed that an answer might arise within your being when you put the phone down for a while – during a moment of doing ‘nothing’? That is because your mind is doing what it’s supposed to do without your conscious effort. It doesn’t always need your help and googling to find the answer. Or you may find great peace and clarity after a long pause that enables you to live in the moment, and the next day you notice that your memory and concentration are better.” – An extract from my book
“Mourning calls forth dancing. Dancing calls forth mourning. And it is this mysterious duel that has become a duet.” – Henri Nouwen
Firstly, there is a clear dynamism in this saying: a movement between mourning and dancing, crying and laughing, suffering and joy. One experience invites the realisation of the other experience in a free-flowing manner. It respects the cycle of life like the formation of rain, the photosynthesis of plants, the death and growth of the universe. It is a balanced perspective that can appear in a conversation between colleagues at tea break. We can talk about the ups and downs, we can laugh out loud and sigh in empathy, we can move from one affective experience to another. Continue reading
When I was a trainee psychologist, the belief in the ‘inner strength’ of the client and therapist was very important to me. It made sense. It seemed deep. I wanted to know more. But I was upset because the person’s spiritual and faith dimensions were not mentioned as part of this conceptualisation. Eventually the more congruent thing for me was to withdraw from graduate studies and pay attention to my longings and yearnings. Continue reading
I took part in a conference on spirituality of the heart in Luxembourg last week. I was asked to represent the Irish Jesuit Communications team (the Jesuits are a Christian organisation who believe that God can be found in all things). I flew over on Luxair with the editor of a publishing company. He was older than me with plenty of experience in helping thousands of people deepen their faith over many years. We journeyed together, led meditation one morning, met international colleagues, talked about a number of initiatives and laughed a lot.
We were continuously reminded that the heart works in slow ways and that we need great inner freedom to make real change. Continue reading
“Too many of us learn to ‘love’ distress and anxiety: we say it is the way of work and the world. Just five minutes of silence seems pointless. But we get in touch with the ‘inner teacher’ when we find times to be still in our day, connecting us with deep peace and balance. It is available to be tapped into as we live in the moment: talking to people, working on tasks, walking with a fresh breeze on our faces, even running.” – An extract from my book in The Furrow journal
“When we are calm and steady, we see things more clearly. When we are calm and steady, we see things just as they are” – My saying.
We have all been in a fight at some point in our lives. We may have cursed, shouted or lashed out physically. Afterwards, we may have noticed that it took some time for our thoughts and feelings to settle down. Our judgement may have been clouded. Or we have pushed too hard at work. We may have stayed on too long in the office, gone way beyond our quota or done too much editing on a paper. But when balanced, we are able to communicate our needs while listening to the needs of the other. We see the importance of rest, hobbies, and friendships in order to be productive. “When we are calm and steady, we see things more clearly.” Continue reading
‘True emptiness is marvellous existence’ – Zen saying.
In order for us to understand to some degree the above saying, it is good to look at the practice of Zen meditation. Zazen, as I’ve mentioned before, is “the act of straight-backed sitting and rhythmic breathing which help unify and control the mind through sustained concentration” (Zen Spirit, Christian Spirit). It is simple in theory but hard to do, especially if we are to do it on a regular basis. I continue to practise zazen every morning – sitting strongly and breathing gently – and my thoughts, feelings and images slowly fade away. I experience peace and consolation… Continue reading